I used to spend a lot of time in bookstores. No more.
Not that I don't spend a lot of time and money with books. It's the big vice of my life. But I just find myself spending less and less time searching out bookstores.
Instead, I spend time and money buying books online. Usually at Amazon, because they're usually the easiest to work with and provide the best bargains.
But I can't look at the books. At least I can't thumb through them. How do I get past this problem?
First, I look for books with the "search inside" feature. Such books enable me to read at least part of the book, and that helps me know if it's for me or not. I often read the first couple of pages. If the book is going to grab me, it usually will by that point.
Not every book is so enabled. (My own book is one such ... ) But I know that I'm far less inclined to purchase a book (unless it comes highly recommended by someone I trust) if I can't read at least some of it.
Another thing I look for are negative reviews. Positive reviews are often strings of glowing praise, without much in the way of specifics, but negative reviews (unless it's just one of those "I hate this book" types) will often point out specific things that help me evaluate the book. A negative review is not going to necessarily keep me from buying a book. It WILL help me know enough to know if I should purchase it.
For almost anyone reading this, the real cost of a book is not the cover price. The real cost is the time spent reading it. Everyone has limited time to read, and it's important to find books that help with your particular interests and needs. Amazon has provided that help.